Creating Craters

This lesson allows pupils to create impact craters in layered dry materials. Pupils can perform controlled experiments by varying the velocity or mass of crater-forming objects and observing and measuring their effects.


  • To give pupils an opportunity to make predictions, isolate and manipulate variables and collect data in order to test their hypotheses.
  • To encourage pupils to use graphs, tables and diagrams to present their data.
  • To give pupils an understanding of the relationship between velocity, mass and kinetic energy and the effects of these variables on crater formation.


Pupils will:

  • Manipulate the variables of velocity and mass to investigate how these affect the formation of craters.
  • Identify various structures caused by the cratering process.
  • Recognise the conditions that control the size and appearance of impact craters.
  • State the relationship between the size of the crater, size of the projectile and velocity.
  • Demonstrate the transfer of energy in the cratering process.

Equipment (Per Group)

  • One set of projectiles; SET A or SET B

SET A: Four marbles, ball bearings or similar of identical size and weight.
SET B: Three spheres of equal size but different materials so that they have different mass.

  • Ruler and meter rule
  • Digital balance
  • Data Chart